Egoyan to hold class; 'Cahoots,' Pollock,' 'Mirth' to preem

VANCOUVER – The Victoria Independent Film & Video Festival gets its seventh go-round February 2-11, offering 22 features, 15 documentaries and 80 shorts at a half-dozen venues around the capital city.

Among the guests this time are Canuck-born “Love Story” helmer Atom Egoyan, who grew up in Victoria. Egoyan will hold a master class and show his new version of Samuel Beckett’s “Krapp’s Last Tape.” World preems include Dirk Benedict’s caper comedy “Cahoots,” starring Keith Carradine; J.P. Allen’s urban dramedy “Coffee and Language,” set among cafe scenesters; and the character study “Morning,” a first helming effort for Ami Mann (daughter of “Ali” helmer Michael Mann) and starring Annabeth Gish. The fest will also offer the North American bow of “Facing the Forest,” a suspense drama from Israel.

Among changes this year is the creation, by L.A.-based distribber Asylum, of an award for best Canadian first feature. Competitors include the Vancouver-made titles “We All Fall Down” and “Protection.”

But the biggest difference this time is the expansion from seven days to 10.

“In Victoria, we really build over the length of the festival,” says Kathy Kay, in her fourth year as fest topper, “so we had to add another weekend. And we have more familiar faces this year, with people like Atom, Dirk and Keith.”

There’s also more happening at the event’s annual three-day Film Forum, starting the same Friday that the fest begins.

“One of the new things is that we’re taking an unproduced script and having a reading. Then script editors will have at it, followed by a panel of directors, and another one of producers talking about how they would fund it, develop it, and market it.” The next day, the script for “The Uncles” — a low-budgeter screened in Toronto last year — will be dissected by other panels, and what they come up with will be compared with the finished product.

The VIFVF will also give B.C.ers their first chance to see titles like “Pollock,” “The House of Mirth,” and Mark Lewis’s wacky docu “The Natural History of the Chicken.”

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